No Individual Minister for Justice is a Mistake as 2,411 Gardaí Attacked – Tóibín
Speaking at after news emerged of two Gardaí being assaulted overnight, Aontú Leader and Meath West TD Peadar Tóibín has stated that the decision by the government not to provide a full time Minister for Justice for the period of Helen McEntee’s Maternity Leave is a major mistake. He stated;
“We wish Helen McEntee well in her Maternity Leave. She is entitled to it. But the decision of the Government to make the Ministry for Justice a part time position added onto the Minister Heather Humphery’s already significant responsibility is a gross mistake. Helen needs to be replaced by a full time Minister for the duration of her Maternity Leave. What happened to the two Gardaí last night is an absolute is disgrace. That on duty Gardaí would be treated with such violence is a disaster for the individuals and the force. No man or woman in the service of the state should have to go through such violence”.
“But the truth is, this is not an isolated incident. An answer to a PQ that we in Aontú received just in the last few weeks has shown that 2,411 Gardaí have been assaulted while on active duty over the last 10 years. We are talking about hundreds of Gardaí being assaulted every year while serving the community. The Garda force is suffering due to the lack of investment and attention by a government distracted by identity politics. Another PQ answer received by Aontú in the last few weeks found out that 400 Gardaí have resigned in just the last 5 years. The numbers of Gardaí resigning is actually increasing year on year. Up until this month only 24 new Gardaí had started training in Gardaí Training College in Templemore this year. This figure is down from hundreds in previous years. Every year hundreds of Gardaí are retiring yet only a few dozen are joining the force. At the same time another PQ submitted by Aontú has shown that the Gardaí Reserve figures are in freefall”.
“According to a Eurostat report in 2016 Ireland had one of the smallest per capita police forces in the EU at 278 Garda for every 100,000 people. This was 40 police officers per 100,000 people less than the EU average. But figures I have received show that in 6 years that figure has hardly increased at all. Today according to the PQ response I have received from the Minister of Justice, there are only 14,283 Garda members across the state. With a population of €5.1million that means there are only 280 Gardaí for every 100,000 people in the state”.
“Helen McEntee’s own constituency has the lowest number of Gardaí in the whole country and there are districts in the Minister’s constituency that had a zero rate of detection for certain crimes in the first 6 months of this year. Detection rates are falling in many crime areas and morale amongst Gardaí is extremely low. I’m the chair of the Safer Meath Campaign. We issued an invite to the Minister for Justice weeks ago to attend a public meeting in the county on a date that suited her to discuss this crisis. The Minister has not come back with a date. The truth is Helen McEntee has not been focusing on the shocking crime and anti-social behaviour that is rife from our main street, O’Connell Street in Dublin to rural areas. McEntee’s department has been busy on everything else except the administration of Justice”.
“In another example of rhetoric being a poles apart from action, Leo Varadkar stated at his Ard Fheis this weekend that Crime and Anti Social Behaviour would be front and centre of this government’s actions. Yet at the same time the Department of Justice has ben demoted to a part time appendage of Minister Heather Humphery’s portfolio. This is extremely irresponsible. The Government needs to start giving Crime and Anti social behaviour the attention and resources that it needs before worse happens to our Gardaí on the streets”.